Wild Card residency for Ixchel Hernandez Mendoza “the Reversed Alchimist”

Wild Card residency for Ixchel Hernandez Mendoza “the Reversed Alchimist”

In the frame of the Wild Card exchange program ICI-CCN de Montpellier offered a residency to its partner Uferstudios, who selected the artist Ixchel Mendoza Hernández, who used it for working on his latest project “The Reversed Alchemist”.


Description of the project:

"The Reversed Alchemist" (WT)

In this solo Ixchel Mendoza Hernández wants to explore the capacity of transformation in a individual/body and performative situation. The goal is to reach a transmutation, a total change of the performance situation, as a possible Alchemist process. In "The Reversed Alchemist" the changes occur not in a material level, but in a perceptional one, dealing with the psychological aspect of the spectator. Working with rhythm and fast exposure of situations, sounds and lights, "The Reverse Alchemist" crates processes in which our senses get burden, in different degrees, to an overload of information. "The Reversed Alchemist" is reflecting upon how our society is supposedly drowning in a flood of information, brought on by the frenzied pace of technological change, and the consequences upon this phenomena.



Report by Ixchel Mendoza Hernández:

Report Wild Card residency. ICI-CCN Montpellier in cooperation with Uferstudios Berlin. "

Project: The Reversed Alchemist" by Ixchel Mendoza Hernández.



From the 30 June until 15th July 2017 I had the opportunity to be a resident in the Choreographic Center of Montpellier. During that time I develop my upcoming project "The Reversed Alchemist".


"The Reversed Alchemist" is a solo that investigates the potentiality and processes of transformation. These transformations are happening in the performativity and in the structure of the performance itself. Throughout these processes, produced by the body in motion, the light, the sound, and the use of text, the aim is to provoke a kind of "transmutation" of the performance itself, as a possible "Alchemist" process.

Alchemy is defined as the process of taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary, sometimes in a way that cannot be explained. In this concept, I'm using this word as a metaphor for transformation and change and I'm proposing a different kind of alchemy the one that doesn’t operate with matter but with perception, a transformation of perception.

We live in a society where supposedly we are drowning in a flood of information. It said to be an age of distraction, where there is mental fog or scramble thinking, a society with anxiety and at the same time used and in need to extreme stimuli. This flood of information causes a fractured attention, as a consequence there is a lack of capacity to process and gain meaning of the given information. "The Reversed Alchemist", by the

means of a performative situation, reflects upon and approach this phenomena and shifts of perceptions.



The project started in a short residency at Atmo, at the Altes Finanzamt Berlin. During a period of 4 days, I started investigating the concept mainly with the body in motion. The first idea, of the research period in Montpellier, was to continue developing and researching the movement material and, together with a musician, to start making the sound. The plan had to change because the musician could not join the residency. Then I

decided to go alone, instead of bringing another musician.

The CCN provide me with the Yano studio, what result to be perfect for my situation.The fact that I went alone to the residency gave me the opportunity to take time to rethink and get deeper in the concept, and try out different ideas. I started to re-question how I will deal with the concept of transformation, not only with the body but with the structure of the performance. I also recollected sounds that thought would serve the idea, started experimenting with text and made a soundtrack that I used for the last showing. All these

"experiments" put in to practice were very important to develop a very solid and clear base were the piece can start emerge.

Towards the end of the two weeks residency I had the opportunity to share the material to the other residents, formal students of the M.A., and the ICI CCN team, receiving very fruitful feedback.I have to say the working period on ICI CCN was extremely valuable for me. I appreciate very much the whole team, they were really supportive, helpful and kind. I appreciate as well to have the opportunity to have the exchange with the other residents and some of the formal students of ICI CCN. The accommodation and the studio facilities

were excellent. Under this conditions I could go deeply in to developing my work. I´m very grateful to have had this opportunity, and as well would be very happy to visit the ICI CCN again. I have to say I didn’t experience any negative aspect in this residency, and I´m really satisfied with the outcome.

Now back in Berlin I had a third working period from the 4rd till the 10th of September, and will continue from 4rd till13th December. The "Reversed Alchemist" will have a work in progress showing on the 14th of December, at Uferstudios Berlin (Studio 11) under the frame of the SODA festival. There is not yet a premiere confirmed.

The video of the presentation is online : vimeo.com/225968336



Some notes from the residency:


I thought of a very slow beginning, at first just a posture, resembling a bit like an alchemist drawing (very frontal). This posture will start moving in a very slow motion, in a kind of floaty quality, towards the front (it might change later on direction, bot becoming frontal anymore) when the motion starts a very loud music (overloaded) will accompany the scene.

Creating a big contrast between the two propositions.

The scene would be the performer enacting slow motion a person going through a desperate moment or a breakdown (overflow of information). It will stop sometimes in specific postures, quite gestural. These postures there will be kind of "stations" that later on, at another section of the piece, they will be used to develop a part where the movement is developing and changing gradually.

When the body in motion stops the sounds stops, creating a big silence and giving importance to these posses, in order that later on is recognizable. I would also like to try the other way around, that the body is moving in silence and when it stops then the overloaded sound starts and stops when the body gets into motion again, and so on.

Second part: The still positions from the previous part will be developed. The body in motion will be transforming gradually without stopping, this transformation will pass through the still positions, the ones are quite gestural. What I want to achieve throughout this process is that, when the body in motion (the one is quite abstract) passes through this gestural "stations" or postures, the way the observer read the information changes,

because we are giving them a more concrete information to read, they can give "meaning" to it, or create a image or certain kind of narrative. This is a way we want to create a small change of perception. After you recognize a shape, or so, the movement should continue, so the observer let go and get lost in the abstract motion again, and so on. ( this is the continuation of what I had started in the residency of the Altesfinanzamt).


Text: I'm also interested to use a text fragment it and reorder it in different was. I´m interested in how the degree of meaning changes, depending on the arrangement.

Maybe a way of seeing the process is as a whole, like if you have a line from A------------B that later on will be fragmented and edit in different orders and speeds (the different layers of info.) So there is a kind of overload of information, because of the random order in its combinations. Later one they could be reordered, so let´s say the process it very slowly reversed (that's the name coming from as well) so that this collage of information

starts to make sense in the head of the observer.

It's not a process but different ones. The whole piece is several processes, not only one line from A-----------B, but several working with the same principle. As an example, we have the movement and then the layer of the text, the same will apply to the sound. There can be different ways to play with this idea, but remember that you don´t want to be didactic, there are a certain atmosphere and space that has to be created, lots of space, in order

that the understanding comes subtle, more like a sensation.


01. 07.17

I am interested in using the soundtrack of the video "Outer Space" from Peter Tscherkassky, as an example of possible sound.

Link to the video: www.youtube.com/watch .

This work was an inspiration for me when I was writing the concept. What I found interesting is the fast shifts of images, making not capable to grasp one concrete idea, but still certain scenes quite recognizable, even if they are just a glimpse. This fast exposure comes as well as a process that increases throughout the duration of the video, what I´m also interested as a possible structure for the performance. The sound, as a consequence of the editing of the images, works in the same way than them, you grasp recognizable elements the ones trigger you to form a concrete mental image of situations, in between the chaos.

Still frame from Outer Space

For the text, I want to try now to take any text, for now, and record my voice reading it. I will take apart every single word and rearrange it. The sentence will be repeated several times and the loss of meaning (as a sentence) will be increasing in every repetition. At the beginning, not all the words will be changed of position, but as the sentence repeats slowly and through the repetition, all the words will be changing their original position.

It's a small experiment, a beginning of an idea.



What I found interesting in the experiment of the words is that I reversed the process, so it's not that the meaning its loss but the meaning comes. t the beginning the words are just a soundscape because quickly enough you realize they are playing in a random way.

As time passes you slowly start to make sense of certain part of the text. When the sentence is said completely, in the right order, is like suddenly an image is completed, like if suddenly an image makes sense. This idea still on a very basic level, but I consider is a good beginning.

Today I tried the sequence moving forward slowly, in combination with Peter Tscherkassky´s out of space, and the gestural positions with silence and, in a different attempt, with the sound of strong wind. I consider the movement forward in combination with the sound really works, there is a delay of the situation in slow motion, with the sound, that resembles a certain kind of violence, giving it a ghosty notion, a certain kind of displacement on time.

When I use the postures in combination with the sound of the wind, also gives an idea of a body petrified in a dessert, a kind of Pompey character, somehow like this image as well.I had added the track of Dionne Warwick, "Don't make me over" it will add another layer of how to read the information that was given before, a kind of clear drama will come to it....possibly maybe


Lyrics Dionne Warwick, "Don't make me over":

Don't make me over

Now that I'd do anything for you

Don't make me over

Now that you know how I adore you

Don't pick on the things I say, the things I do

Just love me with all my fault

The way that I love you

I'm begging you

Don't make me over

Now that I can't make it without you

Don't make me over

I wouldn't change one thing about you

Just take me inside your arms and hold me tight

And always be by my side, if I am wrong or right

I'm begging you

Don't make me over

Don't make me over

Now that you've got me at your command

Accept me for what I am

Accept me for the things that I do

Accept me for what I am

Accept me for the things that I do

Now that I'd do anything for you

Now that you know how I adore you

Just take me inside your arms and hold me tight

And always be by my side, if I am wrong or right

I'm begging you

Don't make me over

Don't make me over

Now that you've got me at your command

Accept me for what I am

Accept me for the things that I do

Accept me for what I am

Accept me for the things that I do

Link to song: www.youtube.com/watch;




Alchemical figure

Somehow I like the idea of revealing a person slowly. So I could imagine that the figure that I imagined at the beginning, will be revealed slowly, almost imperceptible. I could imagine the performer facing the back and turning very slowly towards the front, maybe people should not realize this motion. This could be in combination with the text, so when the words make sense as a sentence the image is complete together with reveling the front of the performer (complete image/sound) .

I started working on the part that is focusing in to gradual transformation of movement, the one passes through the different "stations" (gestural movement/ clear images).



What I have to make clear and re-think , which kind of positions I will take, the ones will become gestural in the section of gradual movement transformation. In this part is important the embodiment of the movement, how I can pass from abstract movement to a gesture one, and as a last step to embody this "characters" and "situations", so its not just movement in transformation, but different "characters" for now I call them like that)

With his gradual transformation and the development, in this section, what I want to achieve, is a sort of some in in the whole picture, but with understanding a gain of meaning. The process reverses, a sort of zoom out, when this recognizable situations dilute with pure abstract movement in transformation.

There is something interesting with an animalistic side that is coming naturally in my "characters", there is also something raw, lets say more instinctual. The situations are out of context, so they are still abstract, so its more like a glimpse of meaning/understanding/recognizing, even if some times they can be quite clear.

I also could imagine that this performance is a space where memory can take pace, ans its triggered, throughout about the propositions. Maybe this recognizable situations should repeat at different places from the performance, working as clues to read the information, but as well in different contexts, so as well the way you read them is transforming, depending the information that was given before, but as well the new constellation they are presented in. As an example you have the song of Dionne Warwick at the beginning with a smooth dance, and later on you repeat it after a struggling situation, and like that the song meaning can transform. This situation can exist in a multi layered way.



Its quite complex if we want to simplify the idea, it could be just one situation presented from different "angles", also taking in count the social aspect of it, etc. I found in the internet some sound collage that Kurt Cobain did, I will use them now as an example of this continues changes.

Link to the collage: www.youtube.com/watch.

This makes direct reference with the media, and the overload of information, but actually you have to take care that this subject is not only illustrated superficially. The part of fragmented attention and loss of meaning its being develop, but not really directly with media. So I really have to take some time with this idea. Hoe do I

will approach it? refer to it? and still remembering that what the main interest till now is the achieving the change of perception. I guess alter on the sound and the lights will help developing as well this achieving the overload of information.

A sort of free thinking, guided by association, what I was mentioning, giving some kind of clues, that the audience will puzzle together in their minds.

I think there should be allowance of "random" material to enter, you can through inside whatever material you want that will serve to build up the association. At least try it one rehearsal, there is no need that everything has a logic, if we talk also of an overload of information, or the different input we get in our daily life is not necessarily connected, still we make associations out of it .

One thing should lead to another, but as well situations repeat. Maybe there is a patter, like a kind of rule in a game, that makes it not just a change (as transformation), but always when an element comes to make that change, is replacing the one before but stays in until the third element comes, to replace the one that is there. So like this there is always something "stable", that persist at least recognizable for a moment.

The question now is also how the reach a major transformation, what we are calling no "transmutation". This "transmutation" should happen as a consequence of all the other "smaller" scale transformations, and as well in a major scale and by this I mean the performance itself. I´m still not knowing how to achieve this, or in which kind of degrees, if its kist one situation that changes, that you read it different, or just the performance turns

in to something else, or or or????? and also how to make it that it doesn’t stay in theory but that it actually happens this major change of perception, the one we know its very subjective as well.

I desire now that starts as something and that ends as something totally different.

Something that none expected, but following the rule that one element stays "stable" before it gets replaced.

Consider the use of live spoken voice, and maybe objects, how can an object transform? as well different kinds of transformations: mood, face gestures, qualities, speed, intension, etc.

abstract movement

individual meaning

be systematic



The part of the gradual transformation is starting to go to the direction I want. Also there is a tendency to get in to a more dark atmosphere the one I appreciate. What is becoming very important now in this part is the transformation of qualities, speed of the movement, small stops. And then when you embody something, the change of the performer to embody it and later on to late it go when you go back to abstract movement. all these

elements in detail make it very reach, and its kind of the synthesis of the whole piece, or at least avery good example of what we I wan to achieve.

Different ways of transformation:

-Body transformation (gradual) by small shift in the repetitions. Embodying certain images that give meaning to the abstract movement.

-Transformation of muscle tone, to create as well transformations, different speeds and qualities. The embodiment goes in to a dark direction, and maybe sometimes cartoonish.

-Transformation of intensions

-Transformations of "style" of the performance. Sometimes more theatrical sometimes more abstract, sometimes more serious sometimes more funny.

-Transformation of character.

-Transformation of how the performer looks?

-Transformation of meanings

-Transformation of ideas

-Transformation of atmosphere

-Transformation with text ( dealing with meaning)

-Transformation of one situation, the some one but from a different angle or perspective.

Transmutate it is to change to another substance.

Music/sound recollected in order to make the sound track :

-Kurt Cobain sound collages

-Poem Delia Derbyshire "falling" from dreams

-Sound of dogs barking

-Atmospheric noise

-White noise

-Peter Tscheraskky Outer Space sound.



1) Voice no meaning to meaning

2)Slow movement gradual transformation, plus embodiment

3) Present one action from different angles(maybe i the beginning you can not see something that later throughout the transformation will be reveal)

4)Moving hips slowly with Dionne song

5)Same action with different sound

6)Complete break, lights sound and situation. From one thing to a sudden change to a different one.

7)Text describing a person, something personal that will reveal something that will make

you see the person different after you know that information

8)Fast change of positions

9)The use of symbolic elements

10) describing something in detail, great detail



About information and random information, random input of information, Im curios how we change from one thing to other that is not related in the structure of the piece. The idea is not to give time to digest, or at least digest the transition. Fast changes, overload.

What is holding everything together, is it necessary to have something that is connecting, is this just time? and arch of time?



Text from edit of "Dreams" by Delia Derbyshire

(9 minutes of a 45-minute radio work).

I disappeared under... the sea

And I would surface again

And I would start to drown again

And I would surface again

Come up again

And then I would go down into the water

And I had the sensation that I was going to drown

And it was frightening and suffocating

My clothes were dragging me back

It was all around me, this water, and I didn't like it.

And I began to feel very frightened

...seemed to go down and down and down

My clothes were dragging me back

It was very dark and very deep

The sea is very deep

I seemed to be drowning

I *am* going to drown!

And I thought, well it's no use trying to think I'm not, er, going to drown;

I *am* going to drown!

And it was frightening and suffocating

No reflection in the water

I was in the water

And it was a feeling as though the water was coming towards me

And I began to feel very frightened

And being that I can't swim and afraid of water

It seemed a greater fear

And then I would go down into the water and the sea seemed vast and there

weren't many waves: it wasn't a stormy sea, but it was a frightening sea.

And there were sort of bluey colours, bluey-greeny colours

And it was all colours like the rainbow

as if there was a light shining behind it

And then I would shout and say "I won't do it, I won't do it"

And I would surface again

I saw a cloud of spray ... rising high up into the air

and it was all colours like the rainbow

as if there was a light shining behind it.

I saw a cloud of spray

And I had the sensation that I was going to drown

And I would surface again and I would start to drown again

And I would surface again, come up again

Then I would go down into the water

And I had this sensation that I was going to drown

And it was frightening and suffocating.

It was all around me, this water, and I didn't like it

And I began to feel very frightened

I must tell my mother!

All I can remember is falling into the water

It was very dark and falling down and down and down

It was very dark and very deep and I seemed to be drowning

I must tell my mother!

My clothes were dragging me back

The sea is very deep.

I'd go into the sea and then I go right down to the bottom

and there is some land there. The land at the bottom of the sea

It's very still, it's flat. No reflection in the water.

Lovely clear water

The water looked to be rather, sort of, bluey

And I didn't like it.

And suddenly all this water became full of other people and other things all falling.

Full of other people and other things all falling,

all going downwards the same as I was

and chairs and tables and things like this

and all these people were all floating downwards through this water

and chairs and tables and things like this

And I put my arms up and tried to catch hold of them

And I began to feel very frightened

I was in the water and it was a feeling as though the water was coming towards me

And being that I can't swim and afraid of water it seemed a greater fear.

And as I sort of pushed back and I felt I was pushing back the water,

so I felt the mud in my hands.

And then I seemed to be clearing the mud which was really saturated with water.

And as I pushed and pushed so I came across something and I was still pushing

and I knew it was somebody.

And I felt them. I could feel the shoulders then the face

And then I could feel this tin hat.

And as I pushed the hat one side, the helmet one side

so I could see my youngest brother's face.

And then I felt him, and I knew a little about first aid

And I felt him, felt down the body

And as I got to the hip he more or less shuddered

And I could see by his face that he was in pain

Even though he had the mud and stuff on it.

I pushed the hat back and I thought to myself,

I knew he's safe, he's alive. I must tell my mother.

He just wasn't because he was dead.

He looked like him but he just wasn't because he was dead.

I just walked towards him and I just picked him up

And he wasn't any more, and I could think he was my baby,

He looked like him but he just wasn't because he was dead.

I'd go into the sea and then I go right down to the bottom

and there is some land there.

I always die on the land. The land at the bottom of the sea.

Link: www.youtube.com/watch



I started trying out a structure for the presentation. I think what I need to see is how the elements are working together, the different layers.

Stage idea: I was thinking I would like to have a radical transformation in the space. I can imagine there could be hanging objects. I thought the objects could be products or something that can be linked with the idea of consumption. The objects should be in a very nice way organized. Somehow I had to think in Cornelia Parkers Installations would be interested that you have this image for 5 minutes, and then the performer starts

destructing the space. So it becomes garbage in a way. Later on this garbage will make a very specific environment.

01.07.17 - 16.07.17

Montpellier (FR)

supported/organized by CCN Montpellier